FrontPageMag editor and increasingly unhinged anti-Obama yeller David Horowitz is hosting his annual “Restoration Weekend” for anti-Muslim activists at a beach resort in Florida this month. This year, Horowitz has recruited an impressive slate of Republican politicians, including Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson, Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, Oklahoma Rep. Jim Bridenstine to partake in the event’s offerings of golf, spa treatments, and Muslim-bashing.
Joining the GOP politicians at the Palm Beach weekend will be anti-Muslim activists including the Family Research Council’s Jerry Boykin, JihadWatch’s Robert Spencer, National Review columnist Andrew McCarthy and, as Horowitz announced this weekend on Newsmax, far-right Dutch politician Geert Wilders.
Conservative pundits Ann Coulter, Michael Reagan and Ben Shapiro will also be at the event, according to its website, along with FreedomWorks CEO Matt Kibbe, Heritage Foundation economics chief Stephen Moore and Wall Street Journal editorial board member Kimberly Strassel.
Horowitz organizes and funds the annual Restoration Weekend through his David Horowitz Freedom Center — attendees pay between $1,750 and $20,000, but the group’s most recent available tax return shows the 2012 event didn’t even break even. At past events, Horowitz has attracted GOP luminaries including Sen. Ted Cruz, former Sen. Jim DeMint, Rep. Steve King and Rep. Michele Bachmann. All apparently undeterred by their host’s record of anti-Muslim extremism, including accusing former Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin and Republican anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist (whose wife is Muslim) of being secret Muslim Brotherhood agents.
In just the past year, Horowitz’s commentary has moved even further to the fringe. As the Justice Department launched an investigation of the shooting of an unarmed black teen in Ferguson, Missouri, this summer, Horowitz accused Attorney General Eric Holder of leading a black “lynch mob.” A day earlier, Horowitz said he was “sure” President Obama was secretly a Muslim because “he’s a pretend Christian in the same way he’s a pretend American.”
Such anti-Obama conspiracy theories have a welcome place at Horowitz’s Restoration Weekends. At last year’s event, for instance, Rep. Trent Franks of Arizona agreed with Robert Spencer’s statement that President Obama is either a secret Muslim or just acting like one:
Wilders, who has spoken at past Horowitz-affiliated events, including at least one Restoration Weekend, is currently on a U.S. tour that included lunch at the Capitol with Bachmann. Wilders, one of the most fiercely anti-Islam voices in Europe has compared the Quran to Mein Kampf and this year lost some prominent members of his own party when he targeted Moroccans living in the Netherlands to stir up support before the European elections.
Fair, impartial, hard-hitting journalists like David Brody of the Christian Broadcasting Network know how to ask the tough questions…and by that we mean feed politicians the answers.
When Brody — who we have recently seen lavishing praise on GOP politicians including Ted Cruz, Chris Christie and Rand Paul — sat down with Sen. Ron Johnson at this weekend’s Road to Majority conference, he effectively gave the Wisconsin Republican talking points to respond to the controversy surrounding Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s alleged illegal campaign coordination during the 2011 and 2012 recall elections.
“Do you feel like this is somewhat of a witch hunt?” Brody asked Johnson. “It seems to be interesting that this is a very complicated issue and I’m wondering, because you’re from Wisconsin, I thought I’d get your take on this.”
The senator — surprise! — responded that the embattled governor is indeed a victim of a “scurrilous,” “unconstitutional,” “political witch hunt” by prosecutors who are “abridging the right of free speech.”
“It absolutely is a witch hunt,” Johnson said. “They’ve dumped these documents — now I know it’s under court order — but you know they are calling it a potential criminal scheme. What it really is, it’s an unconstitutional scheme on the part of the prosecutors. I think the prosecutors are probably facing greater legal liability than anything.”
“We have basically criminalized political activity, we began to criminalize the exercising of free speech rights,” he added.
Last week on Secure Freedom Radio, Frank Gaffney interviewed Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) about the crisis in Syria and asked him about a conspiracy theory, recently publicized by Rush Limbaugh, that the United States knew ahead of time about an imminent chemical weapons attack in Syria. As the story goes, Syrian rebels got hold of the weapons and staged the attack in order to give the US an excuse to intervene in the civil war.
One particularly troubling thing is we had just yesterday Rush Limbaugh among others picking up on a report by a former congressional staffer by the name Yossef Bodansky to the effect that a US Ambassador to Syria was in the company of rebels in Turkey shortly before the attack that took place on the 21st of August and was being told there was about to be a war changing event that would bring the United States in on the side of the rebels. I just wonder in light of the fact that some of these chemical weapons might have migrated into other hands, do you think we’re doing due diligence even to understand the authority of this claim that the administration has made that Assad was responsible for this attack? At the very least, it seems to me that question ought to be sorted don’t you think?
The radio host later claimed that “this is in fact, I believe, a formula for a war.”
Johnson didn’t directly respond to the allegations and only argued that Obama administration officials haven’t offered Senators enough time to review the evidence.
Four of the Tea Party’s favorite senators – Rand Paul of Kentucky, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Mike Lee of Utah, and Marco Rubio of Florida – addressed the kick-off lunch for this year’s “Road to Majority” conference, which is sponsored by Ralph Reed’s Faith & Freedom Coalition.
Rand Paul made his case for a humbler foreign policy, suggesting that anti-abortion “pro-life” advocates should also think about the lives of 18- and 19-year old soldiers sent abroad before applauding a politician who talks with bravado about pre-emptive wars. He said that even when American soldiers go to war with the best of intentions, the law of unintended consequences can be merciless.
Paul told activists that there is a worldwide “war on Christianity” that is being waged not only by “liberal elites” but also by American taxpayers through the country’s financial support of countries that persecute Christians. “American taxpayer dollars are being used to enable a war on Christianity in the Middle East.”
Paul took the requisite political shot at Barack Obama, saying the "scandals" surrounding the administration were causing the president to lose his "moral authority" to lead the country.
Johnson said the root cause of the country’s problem was that too many Americans were either never taught or have forgotten the “foundational premise” of the country. The nation’s founders, he said, understood that while government is necessary, its growth is something to fear. “Far too many Americans,” he said, “are willingly trading their freedom and ours for the false sense, the false promise of economic security.”
Johnson said he would like Americans to take their disgust about the IRS, or Benghazi, or the NSA, and apply it in a broader way to the federal government. He said people who talked about restoring trust in government have the wrong idea. What we should do, he said, is foster a healthy distrust of the government.
Lee said conservatives had not focused too much on families, but too little. He said conservatives have to have an agenda that includes “forgotten” families at the bottom rung of the economic ladder, policies that address the effect of stagnant wages, rising costs of housing, etc. He called for a new “conservative reform” agenda that didn’t seem all that new: tax cuts to encourage entrepreneurship, school choice, and welfare reform, as well as an end to “corporate welfare.”
Lee said conservatives are opposed to big government because a small government encourages a healthy civil society. Conservatives, he said, aren’t about a “you’re on your own” philosophy, but rather a “we’re in this together” one. But in his take, “in this together” does not involve the government. Without an intrusive government, he said, communities and churches would take care of people. Remember, Lee is the guy who believes the welfare state is unconstitutional, along with restrictions on freedom such as child-labor laws.
Marco Rubio has taken some heat from some of his fellow conservatives recently for his advocacy of immigration reform. Reed is on record supporting comprehensive reform, but talking points for the activists’ post-lunch lobbying on Capitol Hill reflect tensions within the movement. While it talked about the biblical basis for a compassionate immigration policy, it also talked about the rule of law and a so-called “enforcement trigger.” One of the talking points says, “Alongside our principles, we vehemently oppose amnesty and guaranteed paths to citizenship for illegal immigrants currently residing in the country.”
Rubio revisited his campaign theme of American exceptionalism. He used a biblical passage from Matthew chapter 5 to encourage activists to keep bringing their faith into their political activism, especially, he said, at a time when people are told they should silence their faith.
Rubio expanded on the notion that Christians should be the “salt of the earth” and a light unto the world to take on the foreign policy portion of Rand Paul’s remarks, without naming Paul specifically. A call to retreat from the world, he said, is a call for America to hide its light, and there is no nation that can replace the U.S. and its example of freedom:
“Our light must shine so that others will look to us and give glory to our heavenly father.”
Rubio made a couple of references to protecting marriage, but none of the senators explicitly addressed the battle over marriage equality. Talking points for activists’ afternoon lobbying visits on Capitol Hill were clearer. “Public polling overstates the support for same-sex marriage,” claim the talking points “The American people have overwhelmingly supported traditional marriage in votes on state referenda and initiatives.”
Also on the lobbying agenda: asking representatives to support the House of Worship Free Speech Restoration Act, which would allow churches and preachers to engage in explicit electoral politicking without consequences for their nonprofit tax status.
Sen. Rand Paul isn’t the only prominent Republican hanging out with birthers these days. Next month, RNC chairman Reince Preibus and Wisconson Sen. Ron Johnson will travel to Alabama to headline a dinner hosted by state GOP chairman Bill Armistead. Armistead raised eyebrows last year when he publicly recommended “Dreams From My Real Father,” a “documentary” that promotes the alternate birther theory that President Obama somehow inherited a Marxist worldview from his “real father” Frank Marshall Davis. Somewhat unbelievably, Armistead stated that he had “verified that it is factual, all of it.”
Interestingly, Priebus and Johnson will be stepping into the middle of a fight over whether Armistead will keep his job. (He faces a challenger backed by his longtime rival, state House Speaker Mike Hubbard.) Charles Dean at the Birmingham News reports that Priebus might be attending as a political favored to Armistead:
Some saw Tuesday's late announcement by Armistead that Priebus had accepted the invitation to attend the dinner as a sign that maybe Armistead had convinced the GOP national party chairman to support him.
Late last week Armistead announced that he was supporting Priebus for a second term as Republican Party Chairman. So far Priebus is unopposed for a second term but rumors have persisted for months that a challenger might step up.
UPDATE: The RNC tells the Birmingham News that Priebus is not taking sides in the party chairmanship race.